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Apple Scrap Vinegar – Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

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Apple scrap vinegar is a quick and easy way to turn apple scraps into homemade apple cider vinegar (ACV). Apple cider vinegar can be used as a home remedy for everything from warts to sunburn to acid reflux, and makes a tasty salad dressing.

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Apple Scrap Vinegar Recipe

homemade apple cider vinegar in progress with a bowl of apples

Easy, inexpensive homemade apple Cider vinegar made from apple scraps.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman

Ingredients

Scale
  • Apple scraps, about a quart – you may use cores, peels or even chunks of banged up apples. Just don't use anything rotten or moldy.
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or honey)
  • 1 quart warm water
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (optional)

If you want to make larger batches, just keep the same ratios.

Instructions

Mix sugar in water to dissolve. In a 2 quart mason jar or other large, nonreactive container (use glass, food grade plastic or stainless steel) add apple parts and enough sugar water to cover.

I like to fill the 2 quart mason jar about half full of apple scraps, then cover with a quart of sugar water. This gives you ample room to mix without spilling, and also allows plenty of room for bubbles formed during fermentation.

Add raw apple cider vinegar, if desired. This isn't absolutely needed, but will help jumpstart the ferment. If you have had mold issues in your ferments before, the vinegar is a good safeguard.

Stir vigorously and cover opening with a cloth and rubber band to keep out fruit flies but allow natural yeasts in. Initially the smell should start out like apples and hooch (the microbes will produce alcohol before they switch to vinegar), then the sour vinegar smell will develop.

I do not use a weight to keep the apple scraps down, but I do stir them daily and push them below the liquid.

Keep jar at room temperature and stir daily for about a week. Strain out apple chunks and compost them (or give them to the chickens).

Return to fermenting vessel with airlock or cloth cover and ferment for 2-3 more weeks, stirring occasionally.

Strain and bottle.

Use for cooking, cleaning, critters or health, and enjoy your homemade vinegar that only cost you pennies to make.

Notes

Make sure to use clean, non-chlorinated water. Many municipalities add chlorine to the city water. This will kill your vinegar yeast. Use filtered water, distilled water, well water – anything that doesn't have chlorine and is safe to drink.

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Is Homemade Vinegar Safe for Canning?

Homemade apple cider vinegar is not recommended for canning, because the pH will vary from batch to batch.

If you wanted to create a homemade vinegar that was safe to use in canning recipes, you'd need a pH of 2.4. (You can test pH with a digital pH tester.)

Can I Use an Air Lock or Tightly Sealed jar?

To make homemade vinegar using this recipe, you want to catch wild yeast. The wild yeast does the fermenting. This mean that you need to have the ferment open to the air.

This is why I recommend covering the jar with a cloth and rubber band. A paper towel held on with a canning ring will also work. The cloth also allows the ferment to vent carbon dioxide, while still keeping out fruit flies.

Don't use an airlock, or seal the jar when you're brewing your vinegar. Do stir daily to help introduce air to the ferment. Make sure to push the fruit below the water to help avoid spoilage.

Once fermentation is active and you strain the apple chunks out, then you can put on an airlock if you choose. Do not store the vinegar in a tightly sealed container immediately after removing the apples.

Fermentation is likely to continue for a couple more weeks, which produces carbon dioxide gas. If you transfer to a closed jar, beware of explosive gas buildup.

Do I need to add the sugar?

Some recipes for homemade vinegar skip the sugar. I add sugar because it helps to jump start the fermentation process and ensures a nice, strong vinegar.

The sugar is eaten by the wild yeast that turn the apple water mix into vinegar. You don't end up with a sweet product.

If you end up with too much water and not enough apple bits, the mixture might not be quite acidic enough to stop mold growth.

Homemade Vinegar for the Flock and the Stock

In the backyard or barnyard, add apple cider vinegar to drinking water to improve flock and stock health. It also helps prevent scum buildup inside watering containers.

Add one tablespoon of vinegar per gallon of water. Just make sure to use plastic or glass waterers, as the acidity of the apple scrap vinegar will corrode metal.

See “The Small Scale Poultry Flock” for more on using ACV with your flock.

homemade apple cider vinegar ACV

Homemade Vinegar to Remove Odors

Vinegar has a long history of use as an odor remover.

My friend, Kelly, notes:

“My grandma used to put a vinegar soaked bread slice in the garbage after a fish fry. It soaks up odors.”

Some people place a small dish of vinegar in the refrigerator for the same purpose.

I've also seen people talking about using the vinegar soaked bread trick to deodorize the garage, but I think that area is too large for it to work effectively.

For larger areas, I'd suggest the article, “Musty Smells in the House – Finding Them and Getting Rid of Them“.

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Originally published in 2016, last updated in 2020.

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45 Comments

    1. Straining would remove a solid mass of “mother”, but when the bacteria is live, a new one will generally grow (if your particular yeast species are those that generate a film type mother”. Most of the time (in my experience), vinegar doesn’t form a solid skin of a mother like kombucha, but you will have active cultures throughout the sediment that forms and the brew itself.

  1. Do you just test the ph to know if it is safe to can? Would you put it in clean jars and put the lid on and be done? How exactly would you can? We have 3 bushels and use vinegar all the time so I would love to put som up.

    1. It should keep indefinitely in a sealed non-reactive container, without canning. I still have some from last year in good condition. You could even use food grade plastic buckets. I’m not sure how long standard canning lids will hold out without corroding, but you could screw on a layer of wax paper between the lid and the jar to block the acid from the metal lid.

        1. You’re welcome. Do make sure when you’re brewing to stir daily when the apple chunks are still in it. The exposed pieces are the most likely spots for a mold outbreak, which will ruin the batch.

  2. So, if I’m accumulating the apple scraps over the course of a week as we eat apples, how would I store them? Should I just mix everything and add the apples as I go?
    Thanks.

  3. Hi! I just strained my vinegar and put in a container to further ferment for two to three weeks. While now fermenting, do I use cheesecloth on top again? Or a lid? Thank you!

  4. Two questions:
    On one batch I left the apple scraps in for two weeks – what problems might that cause?

    Due to not reading instruction properly, I used plastic lids instead of cloth covers. I’ve vented and stirred daily. If I switch to cloth cover after removing apple scraps will it get enough yeast? At this point is smells sweet and boozy, which seems right. What do you think?

    1. You’ll need more apple scraps or juice for another batch. If you have a mother, you can substitute it for the raw apple cider vinegar to provide a culture for your vinegar and speed up the ferment.

  5. I will try this for sure, however, I’m wondering if it would be ok to use regular vinegar to start the process?

  6. Hi Laurie,
    Thanks for the recipe. I’m looking forward to trying this. A few questions:
    1. When collecting scraps, is it ok if the seeds are left inside the cores?
    2. Any idea whether the resulting ACV will work well for soap making?
    thanks!

    1. I didn’t remove the seeds from the cores. I know there’s some cyanide in the seeds, but as they are not crushed, blended or concentrated, it shouldn’t be an issue.

      I’ve only made a few batches of homemade soap over the years, so I’m not an expert. I’m guessing there’s a recommended pH level for the vinegar to keep the recipe stable? If so, you could check the pH of your homemade vinegar and see if it’s in range and safe to use.

  7. Hi, after 12 days there is dark gunk on top about 1/4 ibch, should I remove this befire stirring? Thanks

    1. Have you been stirring daily? (Keep jar at room temperature and stir daily for about a week. )

      If you’ve been stirring daily, there shouldn’t be a top layer of gunk. After the first week, you should have strained out the chunks and be fermenting only liquid for the final 2-3 weeks.

  8. Thank you for this! I left my scraps in the liquid for way too long … 3 weeks! I just strained and it smells vinegary but is quite cloudy compared to your photo. Do you think it’s still ok? No mould.

    1. It should be fine if there is no mold.

      To reduce the cloudiness, there are a couple of things you can do:

      Nothing – just let it sit, and eventually the lees should settle to the bottom and you can pour the clear liquid off the top.

      Strain through a finer filter, such as a coffee filter.

  9. I made two jars, forgot to stir them. One looks and smells great! The second jar is bubbling but looks as though it had mold 🙁 Do I discard that jar? Or is thee any saving it?

  10. HI , I stirred my apple scrap vinegar today but pulled off two gelatinous things. Did I just remove a ‘mother’ out ignorance?!

  11. My vinegar is on it’s 4th day and I’m seeing foam on top where the apples are floating. I am stirring daily so I’m assuming this is expected as I’ll see some bubbles when fermenting saurkraut.

  12. Could you make a drinkable hard apple cider if you interrupted the process earlier or used fermentation caps that keep oxygen out but allow c02 to escape?

  13. Would it work to use cooked Apple scraps from making applesauce that have been separated through a strainer? I’m guessing now because the enzymes would be dead.

    1. I wouldn’t recommend it. As you mentioned, by that point the scraps have been cooked, so the little apple yeasts that naturally occur are dead. You might be able to jump start the culture with a bit of live culture ACV, but I think the brew would be murky and more prone to mold.

  14. I put apple scraps and cores weighed down in my fermentation crock with air lock. Checked every other day, but did not stir. There was bubbles but not a strong boozy smell. After 3 weeks I strained because the apple pieces were becoming pulp and coming up around the weights. The liquid is thick like syrup. No mold, no foul smell. Should I let it keep going?

    1. By using an air lock, you isolated the apples from the natural yeasts you need to make vinegar.

      Take your strained liquid, and cover it with a cloth or paper towel held in place snugly to keep fruit flies out.

      Stir daily, as directed, to help aerate and introduce the natural yeasts you need make vinegar. You should start to see more active fermentation that will switch the liquid over from sweet to acidic as it progresses.

  15. I have been loving this ACV until the last 3 batches which smelled off

    A week on side stirring daily and then 3 weeks in a clip top bottle usually makes nice but slightly sweeter vinegar than my bought ACV with mother

    This evening I opened the bottles that I filled from the strained batch yesterday

    What a lot of explosive gas

    Where am I going wrong!!

    1. If you have explosive gas buildup in your closed bottles, there must have been a fair amount of fermentation in the bottle so that CO2 built up.

      Your ferment may have slowed down with cooler room temps, so it wasn’t as far along when you bottled.

      1. So please remind me …. a week in a cooler place ….. sieve out the apple …. then into a clip top bottle or open for a few weeks …. thankyou ,,,, Do you weight yours down?

        1. Keep jar at room temperature and stir daily for about a week. (No need to hunt for a cooler place, unless your room temp is very warm.)

          Strain out apple chunks and compost them (or give them to the chickens). Return to fermenting vessel and ferment for 2-3 more weeks, stirring occasionally. (I either leave it with the cloth cover or put on an airlock at this time, because there is still fermentation taking place. If you want to put it in a sealed container, burp the container daily to release any gas build up.)

          I don’t use a weight to hold the apple scraps down, but I do stir them daily and push them back under the liquid.

  16. Since there r so many questions and about as many responses I thought I would ask…..I am making a batch of scrap vinegar. I’m on 2nd week, yeast smell 4 sure, no stirring. A mesh bag with glass pebbles as a weight. Film on water as well as the mesh bag. ? Is…..do I strain and add to another open jar or something I can burp with a lid. When no longer needing burped, I can store in a different container right?

    1. Please note in the instructions: “Keep jar at room temperature and stir daily for about a week.”

      I hope you’ve used food grade glass pebbles, as most of the decorative ones say specifically “keep out of contact with food”, since they may contain lead.

      The daily stirring helps to introduce wild yeast. I don’t recommend weights for this reason.

      The film may be kahm yeast, or it may be spoilage, or it may be a vinegar mother trying to form. I don’t know.

      I don’t know how active your ferment is, but when you strain the fruit out, if it is still actively fermenting, you need to either burp it daily, put it in a container with an airlock, or put it in a jar with a cloth cover.

      Once it stops actively fermenting and outgassing, yes, it can be stored in a sealed container.

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